E-tales: Wonky Vodafone

Weird marketing stunt or has some hacker got in there and played a trick on the mobile giant?

Boys will be boys

Times may change; there’s even talk of new economic paradigms — until stocks crash, reminding us that such things don’t change… and nor do chaps. E-tales came across the latest Nielsen ratings of the top Kiwi websites the other day and found it featured the usual suspects: sports, PC games, music, hi-fi buff stuff and hot girls… at no.8 on the list. The only trouble is it’s a brothel site.

Maybe the present straitened economic climate will see No.10, pricespy — which is devoted to finding the cheapest PC parts — overtake the porn site; it’s only marginally less popular.

Telstra’s million-dollar roaming

Now that banking — and being a “hedgie”, aka hedge fund manager — is no longer so profitable if you want to make some serious money, you might try telecomms. To be more specific, try being Telstra.

The black hole of mobile calling, as far as consumers are concerned, has always been mobile roaming across international boundaries. But, when it comes to sheer butt-faced cheek on pricing, Telstra’s mobile roaming rates in New Zealand are hard to beat, at A$15,000 per GB (NZ$17,000).

No, that’s not a typo. Lance Wiggs, who runs a business and technology news website from Australia, roams between Oz and here and was gobsmacked to discover, from Telstra that this is indeed the cost of data-roaming in New Zealand. Quite a price jump from the A$13 per GB charged in Australia. Of course he was quoted a price in MB — A$15 per MB doesn’t sound half so bad. But, as his iPhone data plan was in GBs, Wiggs naturally compared the two on a GB basis.

So, now that the banks have stopped printing money (in the form of outrageous credit), some telcos at least are keen to exercise their monopoly licence to do the same.

Wonky Vodafone

What’s going on at Vodafone UK? There’s a story doing the online rounds featuring an image, reproduced from the company’s UK website, of the new Blackberry Storm, only the interface has been plucked straight from an iPhone — a jailbroken one at that, according to ben.geek.nz.

The question is: is this some weird marketing stunt or has some hacker (either inside or outside the organisation) got in there and played a trick on the mobile giant?

Beware of geeks

As far back as 2003, Warren ‘invest-in-companies-not-stocks’ Buffett warned that the complex financial shenanigans … oops securities… that Wall Street was indulging in until very recently were “financial weapons of mass destruction”.

According to the New York Times, a disdainful Buffet said dismissively of the Street’s math quants: “Beware of geeks bearing formulas”.

Quite prescient that Buffett chap.

Sprint bosses paid for losing billions

Here’s a hint — if we needed one — from the telco industry, as to why Wall Street went belly-up, and sharemarkets around the world fell like a row of dominos.

US mobile giant Sprint’s top bosses were paid a whopping US$74 million last year despite the company losing US$29 billion (and, no, the “b” is not a typo).

Standards & Poor’s have given Sprint the worst pay-for-performance rating of all the 500 large companies on its index. No doubt the punters will be expected pick up the tab. No wonder telco churn is so big.

Grown-ups needed

Britain’s tabloid tech website The Register is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful tales. This one, buried in what could have been a tedious story, titled “Should software developers do it for themselves?” tickled E-tales’ mirth muscles.

Apparently, once upon a time there was a naughty under-managed developer who mis-spent his time writing a program to decide who should go down to the sausage roll machine at break-time…

This is why project managers were invented: to ensure lord-of-the-software-flies environments don’t evolve in the absence of grown-up/managers.

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